Welcome Michael Walker (@krustyklo)


Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve? 

My name is Michael Walker and I am currently a secondary teacher at a middle suburban secondary college in Melbourne, Victoria.

I completed my VCE in 1989 and was interested even then in teaching, putting education degrees in my list of preferences for university courses. However, my parents had a belief that I would be more interested in engineering and so I put those first above the teaching degrees, and received my first choice of engineering course, along with a scholarship. I believe that I dodged a bullet there as I would   have been graduating around the time the Kennett government was closing schools. Even now there are nowhere near as many people my age employed as teachers than people much younger or older than I am.

Whilst there were parts of the engineering course that interested me, much of it I found boring and couldn’t see myself doing that as a career for the rest of my life. In addition I struggled with the transition to university from the high school environment. Fortunately the engineering course had a six month work experience component, and I did work experience at a small IT company fixing hardware and providing helpdesk support and they offered me a job. Fast forward six years and a number of different roles within the company and I found myself unemployed when the company was placed into administration and liquidated.

Whilst looking for another job, I happened across an old friend when going swimming one night, and he told me he had just changed jobs and his old IT job at an inner suburban school was available. I rang up the following day, was informed that they were interviewing for the job that day and if I could fax through my resume and turn up for an interview in 2 hours, they would interview me. As I walked in the door upon getting home from the interview, the phone rang offering me the job! My career in education had begun.

A significant part of my support job was classroom support, including opening one of the computer rooms at lunchtimes, and I quite enjoyed the classroom part of the IT job and interacting with students, as well as the opportunity to learn new things all the time. In my first year I had a small but life changing experience that pushed me towards teaching. I had taken the class set of laptops into a class for some publicity photos but the photographer was running quite late. So there I was in a classroom with a class of year 8s, the principal and the normal classroom teacher, all of us standing around with the need to do something productive. I’m not sure exactly how it happened but I was invited to show the kids something, anything, on the laptops. So I started showing them how to compose a budget in Excel, and kept going for most of the 50 minutes until the end of the period with the students engaged and productive. As we walked out, I was asked if I’d ever considered taking up teaching as I had apparently done quite well!

Towards the end of that year, my manager pulled me aside and was openly honest about how he understood that schools didn’t pay IT staff much compared to industry, but they were very happy with my work and he wanted to negotiate alternative ways to keep me at the school, with one of the suggestions being time off to do a university course part time. With the earlier experience fermenting in my mind, I jumped at the chance to do a Bachelor of Science / Education at Deakin, and did so starting in 1999.

However, whilst I was able to juggle full time work, part time study, and home life having also married in 1999; after 5 years personal circumstances meant I had to discontinue the course to prioritise my family but I continued working at the school doing IT support.

After doing the same job for 10 years, circumstances changed and financially I was in a position to complete what I had started, so left my job and commenced a 4 year full time degree at LaTrobe University undertaking a Bachelor Science / Science Education majoring in Maths and a submajor of Computer Science.

A teaching friend offered advice that I should start looking for jobs from June in my last year, and sure enough my current job was advertised in July, and I was the successful applicant.

I have taught Science in junior years up until this year, Maths in junior years, VCE IT and Software Development, and this year  started teaching the new Digital Technologies subject to Year 8 classes. Last year I took on a role co-managing the year 8 Maths team and this year have been doing that role by myself as my co-leader took on another role.

In Victoria, there are 2 pay categories (starting at 1-1 to 1-5, then 2-1 upwards). As part of stepping up pay grades from 1 to 2 this year, I had to add a responsibility role so after discussion with the relevant Assistant Principal wrote my own role as Digital Technologies Coordinator responsible for implementing and managing the new DigiTech curriculum in our school. I was also persuaded to take on a subrole supporting the Arts/ Technology domain coordinators in promoting and implementing the Design technologies curriculum in the school.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

On an intrinsic level, I am really motivated by the challenge of understanding and implementing curriculum in pedagogically appropriate ways. I love learning new things about the content and how to teach it in ways students can engage with it, understand it and, most importantly, apply it in meaningful ways.

On an extrinsic level, I enjoy spending time around students and talking with them about life, the universe, and everything. Students want to learn, are curious about the world, and some of the best discussions I have had about the content or other topics have been completely spontaneous in the yard during yard duty, or even on the 902 bus on the way home!

I also enjoy the company and support of my colleagues, and appreciate the differences we all have and the way they contribute to all of us moving forward in our understanding and knowledge of what we do. Or maybe I just enjoy the bad puns and dad jokes… 🙂

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

Whilst it seems to be a cliché, I believe the education system in Australia, and indeed the world, is at a crossroads. The rewards will come from choosing the right ways forward, the challenge is in determining what they are. You could write an encyclopedia (you know, that thing that is like a book version of Wikipedia) about the challenges in education – and obviously many, many people have.

The big challenges I see are both old and new ones. The challenge of “what works” in the classroom to maximise learning is an old problem – there have been disengaged students since the start of mass education. How to respond to compliant but disengaged students playing the game without really learning. The challenge of whether we should respond to a changing society or whether the old ways still work best. How to coexist with those staff we work with on the other side of that fence. The challenge of increased expectations and the increased workload that goes with that, but without the increased resourcing needed to do it to an acceptable level, let alone to the high standard it is increasingly apparent we need to be aiming for if we want our students to genuinely be successful in the post-secondary world. Most teachers I have spoken with openly about this issue admit they can only do their job to between 50% and 70% of the standard they would like to achieve. The challenge of recognising student success and wellbeing will be best achieved with recognising that teacher wellbeing also needs to be recognised. A teacher struggling with their own issues isn’t going to give 100% to their students – Jane Caro expressed it really well in this podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/wilosophy-with-wil-anderson/id951354264?mt=2#

Lastly, the challenges of education responding to a changing society including the increasing pervasiveness of digital technology and information communication and technology. How best to leverage this change to maximise learning, be relevant in society, and if/how the role of teachers, education leaders, governmental educational leaders / politicians, and institutions needs to change.

On a personal level, the challenge is to continually improve, acknowledging that a teaching career is a marathon, not a sprint. I also struggle with finding like-minded people around me so that we can mutually develop based on our shared beliefs and challenges. This is one godsend of the internet and forums like Twitter and EduTweetOz.

The rewards? On a personal level when students understand ideas. More importantly, when I have been able to reignite hope in students who have lost hope. Schools can be quite hostile places and lots of students have checked out by the end of middle school. For the system itself, if it can respond to the challenges, the rewards will be a new generation ready to engage productively with the world they are entering, rather than being inadequately prepared for a world that no longer exists.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

At the very least, I would recognise the need for change, and that change needs to be resourced, most critically with time. The expectation of teaching as a vocation meaning it is acceptable for teachers to give up significant amounts of their own time to maintain the status quo, let alone create innovation at a grassroots level, needs to end. Yes, there are other jobs where people do work in their own time. IT, the industry I came from is one – but the pay rates for professional IT jobs requiring after hours work is multiples of that for teachers without the need for dealing with teenage angst!

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I have been a follower of the EduTweetOz account almost from the day I first joined Twitter. In my teaching it has played a role in continuously feeding me a serendipity of new ideas. Even when I have disagreed with the weekly account facilitator, it has been an opportunity to clarify why I have such a strong reaction to a comment or concept, and what I think and the logical basis behind it. I see this as being a continuing strength of accounts such as these, and I don’t see the need for that diminishing at all in the foreseeable future. Teachers need intellectual stimulation, exposure to new ideas, and in many schools / faculty teams that doesn’t exist or is actively discouraged in favour of maintaining the status quo – and online forums are a great way to do that.

My hope for the account this week is to generate discussion on the role of education in wider society, the role of teachers, the role of students, of schools; the day to day trials, tribulations, and rewards of teaching; and the role of technology in making teachers more efficient and/or education more engaging and relevant. Be gentle with me!


Introducing Belinda Faulkner (@belindateaches)


Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I started training as QA manager in pharmaceuticals – 89 staff from 24 different nationalities so I quickly learnt to be engaging & innovative. GMP is not the most stimulating tonic. Since then I’ve done training across a wide range of industries and subjects. Most recently resilience training for long term unemployed in which I had 100% retention rate of participants. In 2014 I was diagnosed with MS which saw me decide to do something I’d thought about for 20+ years – teaching. Now doing M.teach(sec) to be a science teacher.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

I think I have something to offer as I’ve worked in science and done jobs for 20 of 26 letters of the alphabet. The people I’ve mentored who like to remind me I’m awesome and the people in MS forums inspire and motivate me.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

The biggest reward I think is being part of the moment when someone “gets” something. The biggest challenge is to get ahead and realise soft skills are actually hard and they aren’t 21st century skills, they’re 20th century skills and we’re behind. Also catching up with the fact many adults weren’t ever taught soft skills.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

Start from the ground up and revolutionise teacher education professional development.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

Starting discussion and debate on current issues. I want to start some discussion especially on soft skills.

Give a warm welcome to Angela Robinson (@learningkind1)


Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

As a young school leaver I had a vision of myself in power suits and running around efficiently conducting business, making deals and meeting bottom lines.  How little did I know.  Business was certainly not where my heart was at or where I wanted to contribute to the world. Upon reflection I realised a career working with people, challenging my own intellect and caring for others was much better matched to how I could happily spend my working life and hence a switch to the field of education was obvious.

I started in a classroom, as a classroom teacher, in a remote part of Australia in 2002.  To this day I am a classroom teacher, peppered only with time away to have a family.  As is the nature of classroom teaching, I have accepted added responsibilities at times, taking time out of the classroom to coordinate Environmental Sustainability Initiatives as well as Early Years Literacy Programs school wide.

I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of being a classroom teacher and passionately skip between Prep and Upper Primary grades.  I am currently teaching and learning with Year Six at a regional Catholic school in Queensland.  We have 475 students, fifty- nine of them in Year Six and for the first time this year I co-teach with a peer in a newly built flexible learning space.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

There are a number of aspects to this career that keep me inspired and motivated,  however the students are front and centre of this pack. Being part of a team that is ‘all about the students’, and being thoroughly supported to make decisions and implement classroom practice that is student centred keeps me invigorated in my role.  I, like never before, feel that education is moving closer and closer to the ideals I entered and left university with, it’s becoming more and more the ‘norm’ that students are ‘on the ride’ with other stakeholders, enjoying their education, rather than being ‘at school’ being ‘managed’ through a system towards graduation.  Further to this, the fact that no two days, years, class groups or schools are ever the same keeps me very interested and actively challenged. I must acknowledge how fortunate I am for the environment and team in which I work.

I am inspired by the ever growing number of professionals who care about the quality of the education we offer our children in Australia, they are prepared to question the status quo, investigate best practice, and be risk takers in the pursuit of doing things better for the children. Growing my PLN has been such a fantastic opportunity to understand and realise that there are so many other educators that, like myself, have not been content with the industrial model of education. It’s been so rewarding to connect with other educators who are interested in always learning new and better ways that take us closer to those ideals of fitting curriculum to the students, not students to curriculum, valuing all abilities, not just the cognitive or sporting ones, building a positive growth mindset and actively teaching and learning skilful mental health practices.

I must mention specifically the integration of mobile devices into my classroom and the empowerment I feel as a teacher towards the differentiation of learning experiences for my students.  Like never before, I am able to differentiate my practice in a way that is manageable and practical for one person with thirty students.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

Working in education today offers many rewards and challenges to us all.  Speaking for myself, I am rewarded when the children walk away proud of themselves, wearing their feeling of accomplishment all over their faces.  I am rewarded when it comes back to me that feedback given or decisions made in the course of my day have played out to make significant positive impacts and play a crucial role in empowering students and their families towards a better education and school experience.  I am rewarded when children engage so genuinely with their learning that they are crying empathetically for a character in a book you’re reading them or racing home to keep going with the tasks you started in class.

Undeniably, the challenges are many.  Big picture, macro challenges I see facing education in Australia today include the elimination of socioeconomic and geographical disadvantage – helping all Australian children receive a quality education with access to the people and resources most relevant and best suited to their needs and in a timely manner is yes, a big challenge but one our policy-makers must not shy away from.  

Another challenge I perceive for education is the great majority of educators and parents who are challenged by change and the moves that education must make to remain relevant and best serve our children for their futures.  Coupled with the fast-paced change of technology today’s modern teacher needs a different skill set, different approach to professional development and to be brave, informed risk-takers in a way that they never have before.  Furthermore, making sure that all educators are educating for and with best mental health practice is challenging at the macro level.  

On a micro level time is my biggest challenge.  Like most of us in education, I am a partner, a parent, a carer and a community member.  Implementing a classroom practice that reflects my beliefs about education is always balanced against the question of how to best use my time. Taking time to fit curriculum to the children not the other way round, providing opportunity to grow and develop varied strengths and abilities, providing choice in the promotion of student ownership, implementing an effective feedback loop with actionable student follow-up, managing a crowded curriculum to ensure quality depth of learning as well as meeting obligations to  ‘cover’ it all and keeping my own professional development up is a continuing negotiation I have going on in my mind. The use of time I do not negotiate however, is taking the time to stop and listen to a student who wants to share something, taking the time to smile at a student and ask how their game went over the weekend, taking the time to look at the creation they brought to school to show you.  It’s this time that I know matters the most.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

If I had the ability to make changes to the education system I would prioritise the need for socioeconomic and geographical disadvantage being addressed and actioned, understanding that funding such would have ripple effects beyond the here and now.  I would like to see many non-professional responsibilities removed from the job description of teachers, pure supervision and administration roles for example, so that we may place higher expectations on how teachers spend their teacher time.  I believe putting explicit frameworks in place to ensure all teachers are genuinely engaging in regular, effective professional development that influences classroom practice will raise the bar and encourage a culture of professionalism that will nurture a generation of school leavers making relevant, healthy and effective change in the world.  

Making sure that educators know and learn about the brain and the neuro-diversity that it is capable of is another change I would bring about.  It is beyond my belief that teachers, at least in my formal studies, learnt zero about the brain unless they did it off their own back.  Finally, I think there is room for a discussion about the use of specialised teachers in primary schools.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I really love the idea of EduTweet?Oz being a platform giving insight into many different facets, roles and experiences of education across Australia. It is a great opportunity to widen everyone’s interpretation of contemporary Australian education and allows us to build empathy and understanding as we move towards having more and more national and global conversations.

My hopes for the account this week are to give all followers an opportunity to step inside a Year Six classroom in regional Australia.  I hope to share a snapshot of where a classroom teacher is at, in Week 3 Term 2.  I hope to share some of the rewards and challenges experienced in one week in my educator shoes, I hope to share snippets of the professional reading I am doing and provide some insight through the eyes of my students and most importantly I hope to learn from those who engage with me and the discussions generated.

Welcome this week’s host: Imogen McLennan (@ImogenMcL)

My name is Imogen and I am in my 6th year  teaching primary students. I am currently teaching Year 5 in a government school near Darwin in the Northern Territory. I have taught each primary year level which has been challenging and rewarding. By the frequent changes of year levels and schools around country Victoria, Melbourne West and Darwin I have often hit the ground running with adjusting to new year levels, schools and all that goes with that. It also means I have gained a lot of varied experiences, which has certainly impacted positively on my teaching development. I am keenly interested in how the design of learning spaces effects teaching and learning opportunities and as well as teachers working collaboratively to support and inspire one another.
Teaching in the Northern Territory gives me the opportunity to develop my understanding of indigenous culture and how to change some of my language choices, gestures and interactions with indigenous students in order to build rapport with them.
I am looking forward to some interesting discussions this week as we learn with and from each other.

This week’s host is Andrew Turnbull @turnbullteacher

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

After Year 12 was directionless and didn’t get into Uni or anything. I started doing volunteer work at the Australian War Memorial in the Hands-on Area and loved it, especially working with school groups. I was then asked to work in the Main Galleries, the youngest member in the Galleries at 20. I would talk and interact with visitors as is my nature but at busy times with school groups. I’d be placed to work with and brief them upon entry and my record was over 2000 students in 1 day briefed. I was also starting to work with the redevelopment groups for the new galleries including relaying educational feedback from visitors. I was advocating a more educational approach for the Memorial, not a reactive Museum style visit. The Memorial started the History in a Box program a few years later and remember someone asking me about that idea. Maybe I helped.

I then wanted something new and so got a traineeship in Literacy through Australian Catholic University and then started my teaching degree. By moving to Melbourne I was then able to work towards the secondary strand in History and Religious Education. I did start in primary but am now at a Catholic Co-ed school NW of Melbourne and been there 10 years. I have taught RE, History, Humanities, English, HPE and VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) as well as begin a Homeroom Leader and for one year was Daily Organiser.

I am currently teaching 3 Year 7s, 2 Year 10s in Religious Education and a Year 11 VCE Religion and Society. I may also be the only teacher to use Metallica’s “Creeping Death’ to introduce a unit on the Eucharist.

I also have a Year 10-12 Homeroom. Other roles include wanting to get more students involved in school photography and getting the Library staff their coffee orders.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

Students are the key reason I teach. Some workmates inspire me for sure but I feel most at home in the chaos of a classroom. They inspire me to challenge myself, to try new things and ideas and are (mostly) happy to come along for the ride. I am sure that Social Media, in particular Twitter, has been a source of the greatest motivation for me in my teaching.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

 A huge reward in education is a simple “thank you” from students, families etc. Other forms of appreciation are great but it’s not what I look for in my job. To sit and have a laugh with students. To let them know the can trust me and I can trust them. To see them walk in and walk out with a smile. That’ll do me.

Challenges are many but I feel that a willingness to try new things and ideas must still occur but be managed properly. To start something and see it through. I also feel that professional development needs to be seen in different methods of delivery. I have experienced greater professional development of social media platforms than any sit down, butchers paper and Mentos lollies kind of days. Flipped Learning, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Webinars are all valid forms of PD but still fighting the traditional view of PD as having worth.

Mental Health is something we talk a lot about in education for students and seeing it more and more in all adult work areas. I admit I have seen and experienced great support. But what about actual Mental Illness? Conditions such as depression seem to be placed into the Mental Health area because it seems safe to do so, politically correct. But it’s not, it’s a mental illness. So when it comes to supporting teachers with mental illness…that is what I am interested in.

 If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

Accountability in all areas. Teachers are becoming held to greater account and that is necessary. But we also need to be supported when we are being held to account by various groups but in fact we are the right e.g. parents.  

I would also like to see teachers wanting to undertake professional development through different means such as Social Media and Skype recognised as being just as worthwhile as a day away.

I also still believe we need a true national education system from at least F-10 and have everyone support it with aim of moving to a national Year 11 and 12 framework. This must also include a vocational pathway and support. VCAL in Victoria is a wonderful example of this and something I strongly support.

I would also like to see more respect and professional support given to Casual Relief Teachers, especially those regularly used by schools. Don’t just see them as an 840-320 replacement but someone whose professional abilities should be nourished if so desired.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

The use of Twitter, and EduTweetOz and REchatOz in particular, are methods of sharing ideas externally that is the most powerful education community I’ve ever been a part of. I’d always used YouTube but through these Twitter handles I have learnt how to use them more constructively. What I’ve learnt about Flipped Learning has been huge! Students are now starting to buy into the videos that I am making as well as playlists. I’ve also made a point of refering students to particular channels in areas such as maths and science. This is where I can see being involved this week as being helpful not just for me, but for my students.

I also hope to learn other ideas and share mine in other subject areas. There is no reason at all that an RE and Maths teacher cannot share teaching ideas. That is my professional goal for this week. I would then like to share this with my whole staff for what I did, maybe something anyone involved should try and do.

Our host for this week is Dr Tanya Vaughan @tvaughanEdu

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I had been working as a scientist within the field of bioinformatics for over ten years when I decided to become a teacher. I became a teacher in part after reflecting on my last year in science and in thinking about what I enjoyed the most, it was when I taught two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in my lab. Those were my two favourite days of the year, so I thought if I move into teaching I can do this every day.

I also had an amazing teacher that was incredibly influential on my career path, as he drove me towards mastery. He used to say you want the test to be hard so that you can demonstrate your knowledge.

I taught and coordinated biology at the senior secondary level, I loved working directly with my students over these years to watch their learning and passion for science grow. I then went on to work with Professor Brian Caldwell at Educational Transformations as Director of Impact Studies. I evaluated the impact of The Song Room Program on students from disadvantaged settings. This resulted in a book entitled Transforming Education through the Arts and a report which was launched at Parliament House, Canberra. After this, I worked on other projects investigating the impact of Bell Shakespeare and The Song Room’s programs on students’ outcomes.

I then moved to work at AITSL with the School Leadership team, ACARA as a data analyst and PAI as the Quality Assurance Coordinator for Australian Principal Certification. I was also fortunate to complete a case study on Leadership development in Toronto with Ben Jensen’s team at Learning First for the National Centre on Education and Economy.

This has led me to my current role as Associate Director at Evidence for Learning in which I am responsible for the product development, community leadership and strategy of the Teaching & Learning Toolkit (the Toolkit). This is an exciting role blending three of my passions – research, teaching and policy. I get to facilitate workshops on the Toolkit with educators across Australia, translating evidence into action and talk to educators about the schools and classrooms they are leading. In this role, I get to research, and write on evidence-based educational topics. An article I wrote was recently published in teacher magazine on the myth of Learning Styles. I am also working with Departments of Education and organisations across Australia in mapping the Toolkit to their Frameworks.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

The school leaders and teachers inspire me and motivate  my work. I recently visited a school in England which I wrote about in a blog titled ‘Making progress: one school’s journey from struggling to high peforming’. After this experience, it helped me to realise the importance of my deep understanding of what is happening right now in schools on the ground in Australia. Since then I have visited another two schools and it has been so inspiring to talk to passionate and hardworking educators. This is what keeps me inspired – being practical to the profession. Whether this be through workshops with the Toolkit, translating evidence into practice and drawing from the brilliant work that educators are doing all over Australia so the “best practice can become common practice in education”.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

The biggest reward is watching students learn, in the classroom where you see a student have that ‘a-ha’ moment where they make that next step in their learning. A challenge is a lack of time to engage with the research.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

I would increase the time available for teachers and leaders to meet in Professional Learning Communities so that they have time to engage with evidence of best practice and evaluative capacity could be grown at the school level.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

EduTweetOz enables educators to connect across Australia and internationally to share their school and classroom practices as well as share and discuss latest evidence. By rotating the hosting across different organisations you are enabling the sharing of the diverse voices in Australian education. Through the medium of twitter, you are creating on online community of learners that doesn’t have organisation, role or geographical boundaries to encourage the sharing of best practice in education.


This week’s host is Amanda Kowalczyk, @miss_manda_k

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?
I studied a bachelor of commerce at Uni initially. It was during this time when I realised that the corporate world was not going to be for me. I wanted a job where I could give back and use my creative flare to guide my passion. A Diploma of Education would give me just that so I applied and was successful that same year.
My first practicum was amazing, I knew I had made the right decision. I started my teaching career working with gifted and talented students. I was then offered temporary work at a school for students with emotional disturbance and behaviour disorders- could I do it was what I was thinking. I took on the challenge and fell in love. So much in love that when I was offered a targeted graduate position at a mainstream primary school I turned it down.
I have held roles of classroom teacher, Head teacher, Assistant Principal and my current role of Principal all in NSW government schools. I am substantive at a special school in Glenfield (Sydney) but am currently relieving at a mainstream primary school and loving it! I don’t know what my future holds but I do know that it will be working with kids in some way. Watching them grow learn and develop their own passions is what gets me out of bed every day.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
I will always admire my first principal, to this day I still often think ‘what would Anne do in this situation?’. Being a teacher is so dynamic, every day brings new challenges and I like that, it is never boring and brings with it many opportunities for growth and to assist in the growth of others. What more could one person want?
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The constant often inaccurate media coverage that seems to be occurring is an ongoing challenge. We get such a bad rap sometimes and it is most definitely not founded. Public School teachers are the hardest working group of people that I know and I admire each and every one of them for stepping up to the plate each day.
The biggest rewards I can identify would be the
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
I would ensure that the NERA (Gonski) funding finally makes it way in to special schools. They currently do not receive the equity loadings that mainstream schools do even though we enrol and teach some if the toughest students in the State.
My daughter just sat the HSC. That is something else that needs some work. So much stress, and for what? A piece of paper? Understanding that now students can gain access to University courses without an ATAR is this really the way of the future?
I would do away with private schools- parents should expect, know and understand that they will receive an amazing free education at any school across the state regardless of postcode.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
EduTweetOz is an amazing platform to bring together educators from across the globe! What an amazing opportunity that is- to share and collaborate on practice with college us you have never ad may never meet face to face.
This week it is my hope to engage as many people as possible in relevant educational conversations, share my thoughts and practices and make new friends!

Please welcome back this week’s host Jason Borton

I’m an educator at heart. I have been at school my entire life having left school to go onto university and then back to the classroom as a teacher.
I am born and bred in Sydney and went to Asquith Boys High School before heading to the University of Technology for my teacher training. My professional journey began with a phone call on the Friday before school started in 1996 with an offer to start work in Canberra on a K/1 class the following Monday. I packed all of my belongings into my car and headed off on an adventure. To be honest I had no idea what I was doing and spent most of that first year copying my experienced colleague in the classroom next door. She was a life saver and didn’t even know it.
After working for the next 15 years in seven different schools as a classroom teacher and school leader I spent the last 5 years as the Principal of Richardson Primary School. In September last year I won the position of Director, Learning and Teaching in the ACT Education Directorate. I am very much missing being in the school environment but at the same time relishing the challenge that my current role is offering.
I think there are a number of major issues facing education in the current climate. The two biggest ones are
– the focus on high stakes standardised testing
– non-educators dominating the public discussion on education.

I hope to use this week to listen and learn from you all about some significant educational issues. I’m looking forward to the engagement and hope I can offer some value for you all.

You can read Jason’s previous blog post here.

Please Welcome this week’s host Dr David Zyngier

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I  was a youth leader when I was in my teen and really loved the opportunity to work with young kids and help them become “themselves” and the best possible. I also adored my kindergarten teacher (crush crush!). I think I always wanted to be a teacher to put into action my commitment to social justice. I didn’t start teaching until I was 30 – the kids thought I was really experienced but didn’t know that I was a newbie! I started teaching in Melbourne Technical Schools where I worked with some of the most “difficult to teach” kids who were just fantastic once they realised that you were “genuinely” there for them. I was also very active in the various iterations of teacher unions – TTUV, VSTA and then AEU. I ended my school teaching career as a principal of a private school. Now that was a serious mistake! I then worked as an education consultant and developed the very important RUMad social justice program (http://afairerworld.org/makingadifference/). After that I then completed a Phd (2007) researching student engagement at Monash University where I have been researching and lecturing in curriculum & pedagogy since 2003. I am now co-director of the Global Doing Democracy Research Project (http://doingdemocracy.ning.com/)

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

The amazing teachers, student teachers and  kids in public schools who despite all the denigration form politicians are achieving amazing results.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

The biggest reward is meeting one of your students years after you taught them and they tell you how important you were in their life. The biggest challenge is still  the same as always – remembering that for many kids you are THE difference. Politicians just don’;t understand this and want to blame teachers for their own policy failures.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

Stop funding private schools. I would cease all public funds to elite private schools immediately and reduce other private school funds by 25%  per year until zero. I would raise the ATAR level for all potential early childhood and primary teachers to a minimum of 75 (with special exemptions for under represented schools, first in family and indigenous and remote students of course) and increase government funding to teacher education courses to all more clinical models to be implemented. I wold make 2 years of early childhood education free and compulsory and de-link year 12 results form university entrance.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I think EduTweetOz is a great forum for bringing committed and inspired educators together to share and support each other. I hope that I can assist this while at the helm

Please welcome Matt Scott tweeting from The International Technology and Engineering Educators Association Conference in Dallas, Texas

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? 

I graduated from Temora High School in the Riverina, New South Wales in 1996. I spent 1997 beginning an Information Technology degree at Charles Sturt University – Wagga Wagga campus. I was unwell for the duration of 1998 and this gave me a lot of time to reflect on my disengagement in learning and the perception I had of its lack of usefulness in the real world.  The evaluation of this circumstance lead me to transfer into a Secondary Technology Education degree, with student engagement in the forefront of my thoughts. As I began to head into the STEM learning space from the technology area, I completed a Graduate Certificate in Engineering Education at the University of Newcastle.

What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I’ve been an Industrial Arts teacher at both Griffith and Deniliquin High Schools in south western New South Wales teaching a range of subjects, including Industrial Technology, Design and Technology and VET Metal and Engineering. I moved to The Canobolas Rural Technology High School to take the role of Head Teacher Industrial Arts and Computing. Since 2016 I have held the school funded role of Head Teacher STEM, managing our award winning STEM program, a program for all students in Years 7 and 8 in addition to their usual Science, Technology and Mathematics courses. Professionally developing other teachers to deliver our STEM course is very rewarding, and as a New South Wales Department of Education STEM Action Schools, we mentor schools at a strategic level to assist in developing their own STEM programs. Achieving the Public Education Foundation’s Secretary’s Commendation for the 2016 Secretary’s Award for an Outstanding School Initiative validated the work we’ve been doing in STEM for us.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work? 

Working to give our students opportunities to develop the skills they need to succeed in life after school, and experience things they may not get to in their everyday lives. Our students are faced with many challenges as a result of technology impacting their lives. 65% of jobs for current primary school students will apply for don’t exist yet (Intel, 2015) and 70% of young people enter the workforce in job that will be radically affected by automation (Foundation for Young Australians 2015). Working with the large number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and students from families who have had a negative educational experiences is also challenging but comes with great reward.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

One huge challenge for all secondary teachers is that students now have an Internet enabled computer in their pockets, giving instant access to knowledge that once schools were the custodians of. Pedagogy needs to shift from acquiring knowledge to the application of knowledge. Trying to teach a traditional knowledge-gaining lesson or activity can have a negative impact on student engagement. As a Technology teacher, easily the most rewarding part of my job is guiding students through the design process to construct something that they had planned in their heads in Design and Technology. Seeing what a young person can produce while designing, making and evaluating with the resources now available like laser cutting, Arduino controllers and 3D printing is amazing.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

Despite being heavily invested in STEM in a secondary setting, I don’t believe that we need a STEM syllabus, rather than implementing cross-curriculum projects taking advantage of specialist teachers where possible which is the basis of most STEM models currently. Based on my experiences in primary and secondary STEM, I believe it sits best in a middle school situation in Year 5 -8. I also think that middle schools could be very well placed to support the educational and wellbeing needs of students

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I found the use of Twitter priceless when developing out STEM curriculum at Canobolas, with the collegial nature of fellow STEM teachers sharing examples of best practice and innovative teaching ideas. Twitter also helped me source many contacts that have made a large part of my Premiers Scholarship study tour I am currently in the USA. This week I’ll be tweeting about my visit to the South Arkansas University STEM Centre in Magnolia Arkansas and attending 79thconference of The International Technology and Engineering Educators Association in Dallas, Texas this week.

TweetOz helps brings teachers together for informal, fast, professional learning and networking despite their geographic location. Many of us teachers can be time poor, and being able to follow a week in the life of other interesting Australian educators while having a cuppa on the couch is very informative.